Monthly Archives: December 2011

Red (Winter) Cabbage Slaw

I’m well aware that we are entering the very last full weekend before Christmas.  Most people are spending time in their kitchens baking up holiday treats of spiced cookies, bars, cakes, cocktails and puddings.  What have I been doing?  Making this slaw salad.

Having said that, I indisputably stand behind this slaw as being more than appropriate for the holidays.  It has many things going for it, most obvious being it’s vivid colours – a platter of celebratory red and green permeated with seasonal sensation.  Ludicrously lit up from within, it appears to glow on the table.

It’s festive in it’s own right.

When you find yourself preparing and eating this salad at least twice a week without reservation, you know it’s faultless.  What makes it hard to feel guilty about continually finding my way back to this slaw is how hopelessly easy it is to make and just as effortless to eat.

Our days have been short and hauntingly dark as of late.  Winter finds itself creeping into our heads and our hearts, calling to us in unforeseen whispers.  Just seeing this dish at the table brings an unexpected sense of assurance. 

Simply put, it brings light into the darkness.

This winter slaw is outstandingly sharp and biting – the ruthless tang of the citrus really elevates the humble red cabbage to a moment of grandeur.  When yielding, rich, stewed and braised foods are a common thread throughout the bitter months, it is a great relief to have a dish with such texture and freshness.

Because I tend to favour a heady dose of heat in bright and intense salads as these, I add quite a bit of fresh red chili.  And because I like my slaws so severely sharp and so ruthlessly astringent, I really douse the cabbage with the lime juice.  When I have radishes on hand, I will typically julienne and include those as well.  What follows, truthfully, isn’t actually a recipe.  Simply combine the raw ingredients with the lime juice and oil and toss – the rest (amounts and ingredients) is up to you.  The point, really, is that this slaw can be adapted any number of ways to suit your personal needs and to make this salad your own. 

I do know that I will continue to make this dish, likely until spring rears it’s long overdue head.  These days, I will seek out illumination and intensity however I can. 

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red (Winter) Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients:

¼ – ½ head of red cabbage – finely shredded

1–2 cups of brussels sprouts – cored, outer leaves discarded, and finely shredded

1–3 fresh red chilis – thinly sliced

1 scallion – finely sliced (optional)

1 cup radishes – julienned (optional)

3-4 limes – juiced

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Maldon Sea Salt

Method:

(1)  Combine shredded, sliced and julienned vegetables in a large bowl.

(2)  Douse slaw with lime juice.  Add olive oil to your liking.  Season with sea salt.  Toss to combine.

* I prefer lime juice, here, to lemon.   Adjust to your own preference.

Advertisements

Vera’s Banana Bread

You might be wondering what has happened to prompt three wordless posts in a row.   To be honest, the words haven’t been there to write.

It has been said time and time again that I fail to properly communicate – with others, with myself.  Growing up I was constantly afraid of asking for what I wanted, of being rejected, of hearing ‘no’.  These days of my adult life haven’t swayed too far from that same reality.  Communication problems exist between myself and many others in my life – it’s my one constant.

Not only do I struggle to verbalize and truly communicate with those close to me, but I find myself continually living inside my own head.  Truth be told, it can be a dark, lonely existence.  I have heard, however, that patterns can be broken and so I am determined to try to put an end to the cycle and finally step out from within myself.

After just waking from an entirely unsuccessful night of rest, I find myself sitting here at this computer screen, bathed in the glow of Christmas lights from all directions, watching the snow make it’s way onto the early morning ground.  I cannot help but think about my past, present and future in a whole new way.  There are very clear things that I want – no, need – in my life.  As I tossed and turned to see each hour passing on the clock throughout the night and into the morning, it all became clear – the world does not wait.  There will never be a perfect moment in which to have that specific conversation, a more appropriate time to ask for what you need or a better circumstance in which to let someone know how you feel about them.

There are many things I am attempting to work through in this head of mine, but the universe has made one thing quite clear to me over and over again these last few months – the importance of telling people how you feel about them and what they mean to you.  It’s really that simple.

Words may fail me a lot of the time, but I do know that I try my best, in other ways, to reach out.  Instead of necessarily vocalizing my appreciation, I communicate my admiration and affection for others through food – cooking, serving, feeding.  The desire to nurture and nourish lives deep within.

It just might be my second constant.

I have been filling this house which isn’t quite our home with the aromas of comfort and warmth the only way I truly know how.  Many pots of stock have been simmered, many soups have been ladled, many meals prepared and offered with the hope and promise of a calmer tomorrow.

What, then, can be as representational of acceptance as a family recipe – passed from generation to generation?  I made this Banana Bread from my husbands side of the family – it was the recipe his mother used and so I knew it would bring him comfort.  While it may not be the best banana bread you have ever tasted (we all have our favourite family recipe), the recognition in the act is the same.  The flavours here are quite muted and gentle on the palate, which can soothe rather than stir – something that has it’s own redeemable quality.

Despite it being nothing more of a quick bread, what it offers, like so many of my favourite recipes, is ultimately so much greater than it’s humble parts.  This bread represents home.  It is a symbol of comfort, of speaking without words, of letting someone know that they are your family.

Tell a friend that you appreciate the person they are.  Let someone else know their words impact you. Thank those around you for being there, because we really don’t know when that relationship could end.  And if someone takes the time to do this for you, please recognize that act and thank them.  Shine a light on someones day and take the mere moment to perhaps change the outlook of another person for the better.

Give the gift of aromatic warmth to someone you love.

It really is that simple.

Vera’s Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

6 tbsp butter – softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup bananas – very ripe and mashed

Method:

(1)  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and blend.

(2)  In a separate bowl beat butter with sugar until soft and light.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Then add the vanilla.

(3)  Fold in the bananas and the flour mixture, taking care not to over mix.

(4)  Bake in a 375F oven for 45-55 minutes or until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Cool 5 mins on wire rack then remove from pan.

*  For the best flavour, wrap and set aside overnight.